It’s 2017. Does the NCAA even matter?

Photo by Casey Gomez

On Oct. 13th, 2017, the National Collegiate Athletic Association — college athletics’ highest governing body — announced that the University of North Carolina, which had been under investigation for giving student athletes access to fraudulent classes to help athletes maintain eligibility for their organization, would not face any sanctions from them.

These “paper” classes were designed to be deliberately easy and serve as GPA boosters to athletes, allowing UNC student athletes to skirt the organization’s guidelines for academic eligibility so that they could continue to represent UNC as members of their athletic

Such a ruling cements the reputation of the NCAA as a farce of an organization, bogged down in hypocrisy and ruined by greed.

The charges I levy against the NCAA are nothing new. Countless others have criticized them for charges lesser and harsher than these.

Yet the results of this past month should remind college sports fans everywhere about what type of organization the NCAA exactly is.

The NCAA, in allowing UNC to escape any punishment for its actions, shows that they care little about giving an education to deserving athletes, despite a recent advertising campaign attempting to convince fans of the opposite. Had the NCAA truly cared about the education of student athletes, it would not have allowed UNC to escape punishment for offering the aforementioned classes. Instead, they have now condoned the practice by refusing to sanction the university.

What purpose, then, does the NCAA serve?

It does not serve as an advocacy group, protecting the interests, rights and education of student athletes — that much is evident from this decision.

Nor does it serve as a true regulatory organization for college athletics — refusing to punish UNC for its transgressions shows that the NCAA is all bark and no bite.

It is too afraid of punishing one of its premier programs and the reigning NCAA College Basketball Champs, out of fear that revenue will be harmed or prestige ruined.

Compare this to the response of the MLB confronting allegations that one of its biggest stars, Pete Rose, had bet illegally on games.

Rather than skirt handing out serious punishment for his transgression, the MLB banned him for life for breaking the rules. The NCAA has no such integrity, evidently.

Remember when the state of North Carolina passed legislature discriminating against transgender rights, the notorious “bathroom bill”?

The NCAA pulled two championship games from the state in a move that was
widely applauded.

However, it reinstated its operations in North Carolina after a “soft-repeal” of the bill, a repeal that kept in place a moratorium on localities passing laws to protect LGBT individuals.

The spirit of the law (and the discriminatory practices of North Carolina’s government) hardly changed, but since a surface level, intangible change (the soft-repeal of the bill) had been accomplished, the NCAA was content to return its business to a state that to this day continues to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

All bark, no bite.

The NCAA stands for nothing but itself. It serves as a leeching organization, monopolizing college sports. No college can leave its relationship with the NCAA, because there would be no other colleges to compete against. Hence, the NCAA can hold colleges hostage in a parasitic relationship.

But college sports can exist without the NCAA. Colleges can create their own schedules of competition, college athletes can be paid by colleges for competing and students do not need to be cheated out of their education — but with the NCAA in the picture, none of these mutually beneficial arrangements between athletes and colleges
can exist.

One can argue about the necessity of a regulatory agency for college sports — after all, it is important to ensure the safety of college athletes and protect their rights.

But perhaps that should fall to the government — not to a private entity such as the NCAA. It is a self-serving, parasitic, farce of an organization, and its paralyzing influence over college athletics must be removed.

We need a real regulatory agency in college sports — not the running punchline of the NCAA.